It's not fun to watch your team get run on without mercy. It is fun to watch your team do the running. When Manny Burriss wins a game with his legs, the other team is probably feeling a tinge of regret. There are a lot of thoughts going through the mind of Bud Black right now.
"Wait, how did Manny Burriss get on base?"
"Wait, Manny Burriss is back in the majors?"
"Wait, Kyle Phillips is back in the majors?"
"Wait, this game came down to a Chad Qualls/Manny Burriss/Kyle Phillips three-way showdown?"
"Wait, lemme check my 401k. These teams are annoying."
But the game was won with Burriss's legs, Stewart's bunty goodness and strong arm, and Kyle Phillips running like Bengie Molina on codeine. If that's a recipe for success, it's a recipe that includes brussel sprouts, polenta, and vinegar-marinated pieces of paper from a three-hole punch. Glad it was tasty. Don't count on it working again. But, dang, that really was delicious. Seriously, though, don't count it.
Not that you care, but there's only been one mention of "suicide squeeze" in an article on the front page here -- in a post-Alou, pre-Bochy article on the active managerial search, no less. It doesn't have anything to do with today, really, but it's interesting to remember that Stan Javier was once being bandied about as a potential manager. So was Bud Black and Robby Thompson, Lou Pinella and Joe Girardi. Weird.
That dearth of squeeze talk is because Bochy isn't much of a squeezer. For as much crap as he gets for his weird lineups and beliefs as to what makes a good hitter, he really has the not-giving-up-outs philosophy down. He's pretty good there. When asked why he doesn't but more, he cites the numbers. It's really cool, actually.
But when you're playing the Padres in San Diego, and a slappy hitter just poked a single into center field before advancing to third on a stolen base and an error, you probably feel like you're in a dream. Wait, I've seen this before! This is how games are won here! Then you have to search your brain for the most padresy way to win. Suicide squeeze. So annoying. We also would have accepted a sacrifice fly in foul territory, but you can't just call for one of those. If you want to be proactive and padresy, call for the squeeze.
A three-of-four series sounds so, so, so much better than a split. Before the series -- before any series with the Padres -- I would have been okay with a split. But a series win on the road against a team that previously seemed like a wizard-employing nemesis is beautiful.
The downside to the game, if you want to quibble, is that Brian Wilson isn't the same guy as last year. When Wilson was in the minors, he couldn't throw strikes. The year he was called up for good, 2007, he walked 24 batters in 37 innings between A and AAA. When he became the full-time closer for the Giants, he still had a tough time throwing strikes, walking four hitters for every nine innings he pitched.
The difference between Brian Wilson, mediocre closer, and Brian Wilson, somewhat-elite closer, is his command. His walk rates dropped from 2007 to 2010, and while it still wasn't a good walk rate last year, it was somewhat manageable. When I read this article last year, I figured that Wilson benefited from a wide zone, but that was because he could command pitches enough to nibble. It was part of his game.
Now I'm thinking that Wilson just has trouble throwing strikes, has always had trouble throwing strikes, and was a little lucky last year. If I were a manager, I'd punish a closer for walking a leadoff hitter in a one-run game. Possibly by shaving his eyebrows, possibly by giving another reliever the save opportunity the next time one came up. It's inexcusable for a closer to do that, especially against the Padres in Petco Park.
Again, that's some serious quibblin' after a great win. Here's hoping Wilson finds what he's lost. That is, if he lost something in the first place.